Washington Update, November 17, 2023
Well folks, Congress has left DC for the Thanksgiving recess, averting a potential government shutdown yet again.
1. Congress Averts a Shutdown...Again
On Wednesday, the Senate sent a stopgap funding bill to President Biden’s desk, averting a government shutdown with just two days to spare. The bill put forth by Speaker Johnson cleared the House on Tuesday and passed the Senate Wednesday night by a vote of 87-11. The bill is a tiered approach to appropriations with funding for four bills expiring on January 19th and funding for the remaining 8 bills – including Labor-HHS-Education (Labor-H)- expiring on February 2nd. While the House did bring the Labor-H bill for floor debate on amendments, the bill never was taken up for a vote on final passage. Statements from Members on both sides of the aisle indicated that there was not enough support for the bill to pass given the extreme funding cuts proposed throughout.
The ultimate impact of the over 100 amendments to FY 2024 Labor-HHS-Education that were voted on equate to a net cut of $95 million to the Department of Education- with most of the cuts targeting administrative costs. One amendment in particular that I would like to highlight that did not pass but was proposed by Rep. Andy Biggs, would have eliminated all FY 2024 funding for IES- amendment 76. The House voted down an amendment that was ruled in order, by a 118-316 vote. It is great to see the overall bipartisan support opposing this amendment Full vote roll call count can be found here.
2. OCR Releases New Civil Rights Data from the 2020-21 School Year
This week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released new civil rights data from the 2020–21 school year, offering critical insight regarding civil rights indicators during that coronavirus pandemic year. OCR also released seven data reports and snapshots, including A First Look: Students’ Access to Educational Opportunities in the Nation’s Public Schools, which provides an overview of these data and information.
In a press release issued by the Department, Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona said:
“In America, talent and creativity can come from anywhere, but only if we provide equitable educational opportunities to students everywhere...We cannot be complacent when the data repeatedly tells us that the race, sex, or disability of students continue to dramatically impact everything from access to advanced placement courses to the availability of school counselors to the use of exclusionary and traumatic disciplinary practices. The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized equity for underserved students throughout our historic investments in education, and we will continue to partner with states, districts, and schools to Raise the Bar and provide all students with access to an academically rigorous education in safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environments.”
As described by the Department, OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) is a mandatory survey of public schools serving students from preschool to grade 12. The purpose of the CRDC is to provide the federal government and members of the public with vital data about the extent to which students have equal educational opportunities required by federal civil rights laws.
The 2020-21 CRDC reflects stark inequities in education access throughout the nation. For example, high schools with high enrollments of Black and Latino students offered fewer courses in mathematics, science, and computer science than schools with low enrollments of Black and Latino students. English learner students and students with disabilities, who received special education services, had a lower rate of enrollment in mathematics and science courses when compared to enrollment rates of all high school students.
You can review key data points from the report and additional resources here.
3. New Resources for Educators
• The Department’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) released a new resource outlining OSEP-funded centers that help support the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and provide technical assistance to families, schools, districts, and states.
• The White House issued an Executive Order on the safe, secure, and trustworthy use of artificial intelligence (AI). The purpose of the order is “to ensure that America leads the way in seizing the promise and managing the risks of artificial intelligence.” The U.S. Department of Education will have one year to develop resources, policies, and guidance, including an AI Toolkit, to ensure safe, responsible, and nondiscriminatory use of AI in education.
• AASA issued a new report on the rural education achievement program. In August 2023, AASA surveyed district leaders from across the country who participate in REAP to gain a better understanding of how they utilize the investment to support students.
Congress and Washington Update will break for recess next week, returning December 1st.
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday I would like to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude for all of you all and the work you do. We’re a truly a team and I could not do this work without each of you. You choose to partner with me and for that I could not be ore grateful. Thank you.
Until next time, see you on X (formerly Twitter),
Do you have a question about Washington Update? Have a good story you want to share? Any interesting news in your state? Ping me, lets do a virtual coffee: KBrennan@KBStrategies.org